Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sola Scriptura Answering Steve Hays

On Triablogue a recent article I posted on sola scriptura is taken to task by Steve Hays (SH), so I will respond to it here.
The Supreme Judge of All Religious

Earlier, Scott said: “The real problem with defining sola scriptura is that there is no one, single definition by which all adherents to sola scriptura accept.”

Steve said: In which case it’s incumbent on the Catholic opponent of sola Scriptura to identify which version he’s attempting to refute.
Scott replies: And in my original article I gave examples, cited my sources - and that part is only partially mentioned next:
Earlier quote from Scott: “In the example I cited above ‘If it's not in the Bible, don't believe it!’ then this objection fits!”

Steve responded: That’s a straw man definition of sola Scriptura. I believe the sun rose this morning, although I can’t find that in Scripture. Does my extrabiblical belief in the sunrise refute sola Scriptura? No, since that’s not how sola Scriptura is formulated.
Scott replies: It's still A definition which is used by some Protestants, and I cited the source. Here is that quote again with citation:
"Regarding all things that pertain to faith and practice in the Christian life, and that pertain to living a life that is pleasing to God, if something is not found in the Bible, forget it. Don't believe it! In other words if the Bible doesn't teach it, reject it. And, if something is not specifically found in the New Testament, certainly don't practice it. It's that simple."

Here's one that is quite different by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey:
"All things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught in the Bible clearly enough for the ordinary believer to find it there and understand."

Scott continues: Note, in Dr. Godfrey's definition - there's no "sola" here - only that he believes all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught clearly in the Bible. His position does not negate that these things could be found elsewhere. In short, he is preaching "satis scriptura."

Here's an example of someone quoting one of James White's examples:
"If I am a store owner who can fully equip a hiker to hike the Grand Canyon and if I have the resources and abilities to provide everything he needs in the way of supplies, hiking gear, shoes, maps, food, etc., does it not follow that I am a sufficient source of supply for the hiker? If he has to go next door to another shop for a few more things, and then to a third shop for some things that neither mine nor the other shop had, then none of us are sufficient to equip the hiker. But if that hiker can come to my shop alone and get everything he needs to accomplish his task, then I can rightly call myself a sufficient equipper of a hiker of the Grand Canyon. In the exact same way the Scriptures are able to fully equip the man of God so that he is able to do every good work. No one serving God has to search about for other sources. The inspired Scriptures are the sufficient source for a person's needs in ministry."

Scott continues: Again, what White is preaching here is "satis scriptura" - the sufficiency of Scripture - NOT "sola scriptura." In order for White's bicycle shop analogy to be validly an argument for "sola" - then his shop would have to have something no other shop has AND is necessary to hike the Grand Canyon. If I can get the same thing at another shop - his is not the "sola shop."

Now even though White was using that analogy to help explain sola scriptura, he does espouse a more concise definition which does say "sola:"
"Sola scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church."
This is clear and succinct - but it remains an assertion unsupported by Scripture Alone.  

Earlier quote from Scott: “Sola scriptura is not taught in the Scriptures, the canon of Scripture is not taught BY Scripture, thus without Scripture telling us which books should be contained therein, by this standard sola scriptura is
most definitely self-refuting.”

Steve replies: i) That overlooks the textual, intertextual, and paratextual evidence for the canon of Scripture in the canon of Scripture itself.
Scott responds: And? Here we sit waiting for the evidence to support this threefold allegation and...??? Silence. The fact of the matter is the Scriptures themselves do not contain any sort of canonical list of exactly what should be called Scripture.  Sure, some books are mentioned by other books, some passages can be identified as quotes from other passages - but there is no set list - nor is it even possible to establish one based on Scripture Alone.  Well, I'm sure you could come up with some sort of list, but not one with precisely 66 or 73 books in it.
Steve continues: ii) Moreover, Scripture also has a doctrine of providence. It’s not unscriptural to consider external (as well as internal) lines of evidence.
Scott replies: That statement flatly denies the "sola" in sola scriptura. Whereas I agree it's not unscriptural to consider external sources - once you go extra scriptura (beyond Scripture) you're not talking about a doctrine of Scripture Alone.

Earlier quote from Scott: “The problem with relying on implicit teaching
is that reduces the definition to a matter of interpretation.”

Steve responded: i) Of course, one also has to interpret the church fathers, catechisms, papal encyclicals, conciliar canons and decrees, &c. So that objection either proves too much or too little.
Scott replies: I'm sorry, but the fact is you don't have to interpret every statement (beyond a linguistic level of interpretation). Certainly some level of interpretation CAN take place, even in very clear statements - like "thou shalt not kill" - this can be taken many ways beyond the basic, "don't kill." Jesus tells us that if we are even just angry with our brother without cause, or if we call him a fool that we've already committed the sin against him and stand in danger of hellfire (Matthew 5:22). Now does this interpretation lessen that which is originally stated? No, not at all! That being said, let us not be diverted here! This discussion is about sola scriptura, a statement like "you're no better" than we are is not a defense of sola scriptura (even if the statement were true).

Steve continues: ii) Moreover, Scott has strayed from the issue at hand. The question at issue is whether sola Scriptura generates an internal contradiction.  To say that if the Scriptural self-witness to sola Scriptura is implicit, this reduces the definition to a matter of interpretation is irrelevant to the claim that sola Scriptura is self-refuting. Those are two entirely different ideas.
Scott replies: I beg to differ.  Reliance upon implicit teaching (the point Mr. Hays is responding to now) also relies wholly upon interpretation, whereas if it were explicitly taught - that leaves less room for variations of implication.   But, to the point - interpretation of implicit teaching is extra scriptura, yes it is based upon the Scripture at hand, but should not be confused with the actual Scriptures themselves.  In other words this alleged implicit self-witness cannot be considered part of Scripture thus it is definitely related to the matter of sola scriptura being self-refuting.
Earlier quote from Scott:“For example, many Protestant apologists will turn to 2 Timothy 3:16.”

Steve dismisses: Since that was no part of my argument, it’s beside the point.
Scott replies:  I used that as an example, I did not say it was part of Steve's argument.  Is Steve saying he's never used 2 Timothy 3:16 in an attempt to support the sola scriptura invention of the 16th century?
Jumping to an example Steve used (which was not part of my argument, so should I be able to just dismiss it as he did?) Scott earlier replied :“The problem we'd have with this logic is that while the BIPM may be a standard of measure it is not the sole standard of measure.”

Steve replies: And suppose the BIPM was the sole standard of metrics. Would that render it self-refuting? How?
Scott responds:   The BIPM is not the sole standard, so again - the point is rather moot.  The BIPM does not claim to be the sole standard.  If the BIPM did claim to be the sole standard and then WITHIN the BIPM it gave another standard - then yes, it would be self-refuting and, drawing this back to the point, Scripture itself tells us that Jesus empowered His first bishops with infallible authority and FURTHER states that He sent those bishops out in the same way He was sent out.  Since part of the way Jesus was sent included the empowering of these bishops with this authority, then in order to be obedient to His Will and Command, they too would have to select bishops and empower them similarly.
Earlier, Scott said: “Again I would have to reiterate that when one hears ‘sola scriptura’ the next question has to be "which definition are you going by?’"

Steve replies: That’s a good question. And it’s a question that a Catholic apologist needs to answer for himself before he tries to attack sola Scriptura.
Scott responds: So, is asking a question about sola scriptura an "attack?"  That being said, that's part of why I brought up the question in this exchange.  If Steve feels I am somehow misrepresenting his particular view of sola scriptura then he is free to provide a clear and concise definition and we can proceed from there.
Earlier Scott said: “The phrase alone is not self-explanatory or self-defining.”

Steve replies: That’s because “sola scriptura” is a slogan. One of the fallacies which Catholic apologists are prone to is to generate a contradiction on the verbal basis of a slogan. But the slogan “sola Scriptura” is not a definition of “sola Scriptura.” It’s just a label.
Scott responds: Which is why I am providing examples of definitions from the sources which profess them.  I'm not making this stuff up.  Again, if Mr. Hays would like to provide HIS definition then I'd be happy to deal with his particular variation of the "slogan."
Earlier Scott said: “The other definition, that from James White ‘Sola scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church." Again, sola scriptura, alone, doesn't teach us anything beyond "Scripture Alone’ - White needs to add ‘infallible rule of faith for the Church’ to give some sort of definition to it. Now for that rule to be valid, we should expect that that rule exists within Scripture - and for that matter - how does one even KNOW what Scripture is?”

Steve posits: A disappointed “expectation” is hardly equivalent to a logical self-contradiction. Notice the inability of some Catholic apologists to even focus on the issue at hand.
Scott responds: On this point I was not pointing out the contradiction as much as I was pointing out what is lacking and what has to be added to the "slogan" to make it viable.  Then I point out that if the "rule" were valid - it would be found within itself - unless, of course we're accepting that sola scriptura is a fallible rule of faith.   Does Mr. Hays concede that?
Earlier Scott said: “The teaching of sola scriptura does not exist in Scripture…”

Steve comments: Notice how Scott is building on tendentious premise.
Scott replies: Notice how Steve appears to be avoiding the criticism.
Scott wrote earlier: “And to KNOW what Scripture is - we have to go with some OTHER SOURCE and if we don't trust that source to have infallibly declared the Canon of Sacred Scripture, then we don't really have infallible knowledge of exactly what constitutes Scripture!”

Steve does not respond, but diverts: i) Of course, that only relocates the (alleged) problem. For we’d then need to have infallible knowledge of the one true church.
Scott replies: Continuation of the logic is not a relocation of the problem.  However, if Mr. Hays would like us to focus solely upon the matter of self-contradiction, I would be happy to do so.  However, if Mr. Hays wishes to remain so focused then I would ask he not further challenge me with follow-up questions. 
Steve continues: ii) Did OT, Intertestamental, and 2nd Temple Jews not know what Scripture was before Trent “infallibly” defined the canon in the 16C?

When Jesus, the apostles, and NT evangelists appeal to Scripture in their debates with 1C Jews, are they citing something of which 1C Jews were ignorant?
Scott responds to Steve:  I do not and have not challenged the knowledge of OT Jews and/or NT Catholic evangelists who debated with first century Jews.  This is a red herring.  I asked about how WE know what Scripture is.  For nearly the first 400 years of Christendom the Canon of the New Testament was in flux.  If it were so clear, why all the debates on the canon?
Steve continues the point with:  iii) Why does knowledge have to be infallible? What’s wrong with plain old knowledge?
Scott replies:  I was going with James White's definition which includes the term "infallible."  Do you object to White's definition?
Steve continues:  iv) Most importantly, Scott has once again drifted from the issue at hand. Whether or not we have “infallible knowledge” of the canon is completely irrelevant to the question of whether sola Scriptura is self-refuting.
Scott replies:  Mr. Hays, if you do not wish to answer the logical progression of the argument, fine - stick to what you perceive to be the only logical discussion.  When you go into asking follow-up questions to the logical progression and then criticize the progression is a bit of a double-standard.  Pick your battle.  If you wish to remain focused on a tunnel vision approach, fine - you lose because Scripture itself points to ANOTHER infallible source of teaching in the authority of the bishops to bind and loose whatsoever they choose to bind or loose.  So much for "sola."
Steve adds: Notice how consistently illogical Catholic apologists like Scott show themselves to be.  That’s in large part because they rely on pat objections to the Protestant rule of faith. They are unable to adapt to any argument that doesn’t dovetail with their pat objections.
Scott responds: Notice how Steve utilizes the illogical/invalid (common fallacy) approach of switching to ad hominem.  He's not challenging anything specific in what I said - but is attacking me personally.  Back to the point - if sola scriptura weren't so easily defeated we wouldn't have "pat objections" and one such objection is the fact that it is self-contradictory especially when we consider, as has already been pointed out, Scripture itself reveals another infallible authority in Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18.
Scott asks:  “So, if the canon is closed - who closed it?”

Steve replies:   The Bible writer who wrote the last book of the Bible closed the canon–by writing the last book of the Bible.
Scott responds: That would be fine and good - but we're missing something here, oh yes, where that writer of the last book of the Bible actually closed the canon.  It overlooks the fact that throughout the first nearly 400 years of the Church the New Testament canon was anything but closed.   Mr. Hays position is historically untenable.
Scott previously asked:  “Does Scripture itself, anywhere, list all the books which should be contained therein?”

Steve responds:  Of course, that’s a simple-minded objection. To begin with, there’s an elementary distinction between having a preexisting list, and having the raw materials to generate a list.
Scott replies: Except of course if it were true what Mr. Hays said earlier, that "the canon was closed by writer of the last book of the Bible," at that point in time all the "raw materials" would have been available to generate this list - but he (that would be St. John) never put together such a list for us.
Scott wrote earlier: “The truth of the matter is that for the first four hundred years of the Church the canon was not set…”

Steve replies:  i) Trobisch has argued on text-critical grounds that the NT canon was standardized in the mid-2C AD. For a useful summary and evaluation of his argument, see the discussion by Kellum, Quarles, and Kostenberger in their recent intro. to the NT.
Scott responds: So now Mr. Hays posits the canon was not closed when the writer wrote the last book, and does not even put forth evidence it was "closed" but that it was "standardized" in the second century A.D.  I suppose we can accept that as concession of the earlier point.
Steve continues:  ii) Freedman has argued that (except for Daniel), the OT was standardized c. 5C BC.  And Sailhamer has supplemented Freedman’s analysis by arguing for the pivotal role of Daniel in the canonization of the OT (in The Meaning of the Pentateuch).
Scott replies: So now we've extended the canon process out to the 5th century A.D., which is beyond what I have asserted (the councils of Rome, Carthage and Hippo toward the end of the 4th century "standardized" the canon then).
Steve continues:  iii) Scott is also confusing internal evidence for the canon with various forms of ecclesiastical recognition.
Scott replies:  Mr. Hays does not seem to understand what a "canon" is.  A "canon" is an ecclesiastical form of recognition of a standardized list.  Scripture does not provide this list.
Scott wrote earlier:  “And then when it was set that same authority which set the New Testament Canon set the Old Testament Canon with seven more books than the Protestant Bibles have.”

Steve replies:  i) So from the time Moses wrote the Pentateuch until the Council of Trent in the 16C, the Jews were without a canon of Scripture.
Scott responds:  Steve seems to think the Pentateuch (penta = 5) comprises the entire canon of the Old Testament.  The Pentateuch refers to the first 5 books of Moses.   But, as far as that goes, even to this day, the Jews would consider the Pentateuch to be at the same level of inspiration as Christians consider the entire Bible to be.  For Jews the rest of the books, though inspired are not "as inspired" as the Books of Moses.   That being said, the Jews had at least two canons at the time of Jesus and the Apostles - and didn't decide upon rejection of the Septuagint until sometime after Christendom had begun - in case you hadn't noticed, the Jews were no longer in a place to decide upon God's Word - that baton had been passed to Jesus' bishops.
Steve illogically states:  ii) What is even worse for Scott, popes, Latin Fathers, and Roman Catholic bishops didn’t even know what Scripture is until the ink was dry on text of Trent.
Scott replies:  I have already stated that the canon was established in the late 4th century by at least three local councils.   Every Catholic Bible from that time forward used the canon used by St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate.   The Council of Trent did not invent something new, it defined for the Church that which it had already accepted for the past 1100 years as canonical.  I repeat, Trent did not establish the canon - it defined the canon.
Scott wrote earlier:  “Logically speaking, if you're trusting THAT authority for the Christian New Testament, then why turn to a DIFFERENT authority for the Christian Old Testament?

Steve replies:  i) Needless to say, that disregards Jewish evidence for the Hebrew canon. A good place to start is Roger Beckwith’s standard monograph on the subject.

Observe the consistently anachronistic perspective which Catholic apologists take in relation to the canon.
Scott replies:  But let's read just a few lines later and what do we find?   Oh, Mr. Hays is saying it was Philo, Josephus and Ben Sira, et al who were the authorities which decided upon the Jewish canon.  If anyone doesn't know - these are Jews during the Christian era.
Steve continues:  ii) Moreover, the question of who or what we “trust” is irrelevant to whether or not sola Scripture is logically self-refuting. Scott keeps advertising the inability of Catholic apologists to focus on the issue under review.
Scott replies:  Steve continues to advertise that he will continue to respond to what he considers side-topics and then criticize the continued discussion.  Again, Mr. Hays should decide ahead of time if he's going to allow for logical progression of a position and discuss it, or if he's going to restrict the discussion to just the original premise.  Again, I would have no problem with him stating he would not respond to what he considered to be side topics.  That would have shortened this response exponentially.  If Mr. Hays engages the subjects then he is giving tacit approval to the appropriateness of the discussion and has no room for complaint (which is starting to sound a lot like whining).
Scott wrote:  “Ironically, the authority Protestants turn to for the Old Testament is that of those who had Jesus put to death as an imposter and false prophet.”

Steve replied:  i) Well, you learn something new every day. I didn’t realize until now that Philo, Josephus, Ben Sira et al. were members of the Sanhedrin when Jesus was condemned to die.

Come to think of it, Freedman has argued that Ezra was instrumental in the canonization of the OT. It would be ironic if the authority that Protestants turn to for the OT is a Christ-killer like Ezra. Oh, well.
Scott responds:  It is undeniable that Jesus was put to death by the Jews as an impostor and false prophet.  It would be those who rejected the completion of the Old Covenant who would eventually decide upon the "canon" (they don't use that terminology) of Scripture.  Keep in mind, they, those who rejected the Old Testament canon used by the Christians also reject the entire New Testament.  I am content to let the objective reader consider what that is worth.
Steve continues:  ii) It’s also revealing when Catholic apologists take refuge in Jew-baiting rhetoric as their last resort. But that’s consistent with the grand tradition of Catholic anti-semiticism.
Scott chuckles:  "Last resort?!"  Mr. Hays, I've not yet begun to fight!  That being said, I am not the one who introduced anti-Semite polemical adjectives here.  I simply stated facts and Mr. Hays is using terms like "Jew-baiting" and "Christ killers."  Again, the objective reader can decide for themselves who is being antisemitic.  
Scott wrote:  “(Even) though there were some disputes on the canon, St. Jerome for example argued for the deuterocanonicals to NOT be counted as canonical - however in HIS CANON, the Latin Vulgate, those books are indeed included. Why are they included? Because he yielded to due and proper authority.”

Steve replies:  So when push comes to show, ignore the evidence and go with the papacy.
Scott responds:  When push comes to (shove), we do turn to the authority Jesus Christ left to "Feed (His) Sheep," yes.  That being said, I'm not ignoring evidence here at all.
Scott wrote earlier: “Every authorized Bible from that time forward contains the deuterocanonicals.”

Steve retorts:  Authorized by the papacy? A nice, circular appeal.
Scott responds:  It's just a statement of fact, Mr. Hays.  Even many of the earliest Protestant Bible still included them.
Earlier, Scott said:  “It would not be until the time of Protestantism in the 16th century that some translations would be published without them.”

Steve replies:i) A circular appeal to tradition to validate tradition.

ii) It also disregards dissention over the scope of the canon when Trent was convened.
Scott replies:  There is nothing circular about stating the fact that it would not be until the time of Protestantism in the 16th century that some translations would be published without the deuterocanonicals.  This also does not disregard the dissension, largely among Protestants, when Trent was convened and is precisely why Trent addressed the issue with a dogmatic definition to end the debate among faithful Catholics who may have been influenced by protesting heretics of the day.
Earlier Scott wrote: “Even the initial King James Version includes the deuterocanonicals - without putting them in a separate appendix, that would come later - and then later still they would be left out entirely.”

Steve replies: Anglican editions of the Bible were subject to whatever royal policies prevailed at the time.
Scott responds: The King James Version was "the authorized version" for nearly all of Protestantism for quite some time - and remains so by large groups.   The point remains, the original KJV included the deuterocanonicals without distinguishing them into a separate appendix or total removal of them - both of these changes did happen to the KJV, but not immediately.
Steve adds:  iii) Once again, this is all irrelevant to whether or not sola scriptura is self-contradictory.
Scott reminds the reader:  If it is something Mr. Hays wishes not to discuss, he can choose to stick to only the subject he wishes to discuss!   By engaging the discussion he nullifies his complaint.
Earlier Scott wrote:  “Hays here oversimplifies the ‘Catholic rule of faith’ and then makes it dependent upon the Protestant rule of faith for validity. His argument is flawed to the core. First off, the Catholic Faith (and thus rule) existed long before there ever was a Protestant rule of faith, and long before anyone ever heard of sola scriptura. Thus to begin with Hays assertion is wholly anachronistic. Secondly, Catholics do not base their acceptance of the authority of the Church based on the consequences of accepting the Protestant rule of faith. Catholics accept the authority of the Catholic Church because Jesus Christ established the Church Himself and even the book which Protestants hold so high affirms this truth! It must be noted as well, the Catholic Church does not receive this authority from Scripture, she received it directly from Jesus Christ - and Scripture just happens to record this granting and transfer of power.”

Steve replies:  I could comment on the specifics, but it’s sufficient to point out that this is irrelevant to the issue at hand. I was responding to the aprioristic framework of Catholic apologists like Cardinal Newman and Michael Liccione. Once more, Scott is constitutionally unable to wrap his head around the actual state of the question.
Scott responds:  I can understand why Mr. Hays would avoid this point entirely because it destroys his premise.   He stated the Catholic "rule of faith" was dependent upon the Protestant "rule of faith" for validity.  His premise is so anachronistically flawed it is laughable.  I find it ironic that I responded directly to HIS POINT and now I am accused of presenting a statement "irrelevant to the issue at hand."
Earlier Scott wrote:  “Well, first off, Hays is building upon the faulty premise we've already exposed here, but the fact of the matter is - the Catholic rule of faith IS self-referential!”

Steve responds:  Even if we credit that tendentious claim for the sake of argument, it’s irrelevant to the issue at hand. The a priori argument we find in Newman and Liccione doesn’t require the Catholic rule of faith to be self-referential.

It would really behoove a Catholic apologist like Scott to acquire a modicum of mental discipline.
Scott replies:  Whether or not Newman or Liccione required the Catholic rule of faith to be self-referential is what is truly irrelevant to the overall point Mr. Hays is trying to make.   Scripture remains PART OF Catholic Tradition - so as much as he'd like to claim Scripture for his own rule of faith and eliminate it from ours - he can't do it. 

I also note Mr. Hays engaging in ad hominem again, which is irrelevant to the subject at hand and will not be dignified by a response from me beyond pointing out the common fallacy he has engaged upon.
Earlier Scott wrote:  “Scripture is PART OF the Catholic Faith and Scripture records Jesus giving His Church this infallible authority (Matthew 16:18-19 and 18:18).”

Steve retorts, but does not answer:  i) I’m well-acquainted with Catholic spooftexting. I’ve responded to that on many occasions.
Scott responds:  Whether or not Mr. Hays has responded to this before is irrelevant to this discussion/debate.   If one chooses to engage, then engage - dismissing an argument on the grounds one has responded to it before is an invalid response.   Mr. Hays and I have not directly engaged each other previously (that I am aware of) so he does not get a pass on previous responses - especially when he does not even directly cite a single one of them, which would be rather easy to do in this online environment.  
Steve continues:  ii) I appreciate Scott’s tacit endorsement of the perspicuity of Scripture. Of course, that renders the Magisterium superfluous.
Scott responds:  "The Magisterium" is not the subject of this debate.  The point was that even by Mr. Hays' "rule of faith" - his premise is exposed as self-contradicting in the fact that Scripture reveals ANOTHER infallible authority.  Ignoring this fact does not make it go away.
Earlier Scott wrote:  “Thus in Hays haste, he seems to overlook this fact which utterly destroys his comparison.”

Steve replies:  My comparison was drawn from the a priori type of argument we find in Catholic apologists like Newman and Liccione. They don’t adduce verses from Matthew to make their case.
Scott responds:   Whether or not Newman and Liccione "adduce verses from Matthew to make their case" is irrelevant to the fact that I have done so - and that the verses from Matthew utterly prove my case against Mr. Hays premise.   Sola scriptura IS self-refuting based on the FACT that Scripture itself points to another infallible authority.
Earlier Scott wrote:  “Again, the Catholic argument is not simply axiomatic nor a priori, in fact Hays himself states that Catholicism bases her argument on the consequences of accepting the Protestant argument - which by default would make his argument for Catholicism an a posteriori argument! Neither is the Catholic argument axiomatic (self evident) for as we have seen, it is supported by Scripture - the source Protestants accept as authoritative!”

Steve retorts with more ad hominem:  What is Scott’s problem, exactly? Is he just too dense to follow the argument, even when I explicitly identify the referent? I’m addressing the a priori type of argument for the Catholic rule of faith which we find in apologists like Newman and Liccione.

The whole point of an a priori argument is that it doesn’t require a posteriori supplementation. Rather, it has to stand or fall on its own terms.
Scott replies:  Again noting Mr. Hays aversion to invalid argumentation ad hominem.   I am not overly concerned with Mr. Hays "referent" of Newman and Liccione - rather the FACT, which he has yet to dispute, that Scripture itself identifies ANOTHER infallible authority thus rendering the concept of SOLA scriptura (as the SOLE infallible rule of faith for the Church) self contradictory.  So looking at the overall picture - Mr. Hays argument falls on its own terms.
Earlier Scott wrote:  “No Mr. Hays, it is not just because the Protestant rule of faith contains the word "only" and ours does not. Yes, that would be superficial and a foolish reason to base ones acceptance or rejection of a rule of faith. You present no Catholic making such an argument, you're merely inventing this argument and throwing it at the wall to see if it sticks - well, it doesn't. All you've done is establish a straw man and then proceed to knock it down.”

Steve replies:  Really? Catholics don’t regard their own rule of faith as the only true rule of faith?
Scott responds:  Mr. Hays totally ignores the fact that he's built up a straw man argument (one of the common fallacies of debate) and then proceeds to knock it down.  The FACT is that "sola scriptura" is the claim that Scripture ALONE is the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church, if he does not agree with this definition - then I encourage him to let us know what is the particular variation of sola scriptura he adheres to.   This debate is NOT about whether or not the Catholic Church preaches a "sola" - and the POINT here is that Catholics do not adhere to a SINGLE rule of faith unless one wishes to engage the term of "sola ecclesiam" which is NOT a single rule - but a combination of rules to lead, guide and govern God's People (the Church).
Earlier Scott wrote:  “Clearly Mr. Hays has not examined the Catholic objections objectively and the only muddleheaded verbal tricks we see are coming from his invented straw man arguments.”
Steve responds:  Scott consistently misses the target because he keeps targeting a different target than I took aim at. I specified that I was discussing the issue according to the way in which Catholic apologists like Newman and Liccione chose to frame the issue. Scott can never keep his eye on that frame of reference, even though it’s Catholic apologists who supply that frame of reference.
Scott replies:  So NOW after going through pages of responding to me, Mr. Hays claims I am "missing the target."  The "target" is the discussiong of whether or not sola scriptura is self-refuting.  I am not engaging Newman or Liccione in how THEY framed the argument.  I can understand that Mr. Hays wishes to limit the criticism to these two Catholic apologists, but the "target" is whether or not sola scriptura is self-refuting - NOT these Catholic apologists in an out-of-context reference to their works.  The ploy Mr. Hays is attempting to use here is to entirely dismiss everything said above.  Well, I am content to let the objective reader see who is attempting to dodge and divert the discussion into oblivion and who is answering point by point.  The almost comical point here to make though is the fact that Mr. Hays has gone virtually point by point himself - but the overwhelming theme of his approach is not to actually answer - but to dismiss.   I hope the objective reader is not being taken in by this tactic.
“Dr. Beckwith, you have not gone wrong in your reasoning, but another thing to consider from the statement you quoted - they claim ‘the 66 books are the supreme authority on matters of belief...’ - that would be a definition of ‘suprema scriptura,’ not ‘sola scriptura.’ Saying something has supreme authority does not give it sole authority - I submit those writing that are not true sola scripturists, at least not if that is their credo.”

i) And how is that relevant to the actual terms of my post? It isn’t.
Scott replies:  Well, perhaps Dr. Beckwith's article was not as applicable as I had originally thought, he does make a valid point with regard to sola scriptura - but perhaps is not directly related to Mr. Hays argument.  I withdraw the inclusion of Dr. Beckwith's article from THIS point - though I support the content of it on other points.
Steve continues:  ii) Moreover, sola Scriptura doesn’t mean there can be no subordinate authorities. Scott is confusing a slogan with the position denoted by that label. In fact, the Westminster Confession, to cite one representative example, even says:

“The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” (WCF 1:10).

“Supreme” authority is perfectly consonant with subordinate authorities.
Scott responds:  Again, I am not arguing against suprema scriptura - but sola scriptura, that being that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church.  If Mr. Hays does not adhere to THAT definition, then all this has been for naught - as we've then been arguing about two different variations of what is labeled sola scriptura. 

Back to Scott:  “Perhaps the best objection to sola scriptura, outside of the fact that Scripture itself does not teach this rule, is that Scripture itself provides us with ANOTHER INFALLIBLE RULE! In both Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18 Jesus states that His bishops have the authority to bind or loose whatsoever they choose and whatsoever they bind or loose on Earth is bound or loosed in Heaven.”

Steve responds:  i) Scott needs to exegete the concept of the Roman episcopate from his prooftexts.

ii) He also needs to exegete the “binding and loosing” language.

iii) He also needs to demonstrate how the locus of infallibility in Catholicism corresponds to whatever “binding and loose” denote in Matthew. Where does Jesus refer to ecumenical councils or ex cathedra pronouncements by the pope? I must have missed that in the wording of his prooftexts.

iv) I do appreciate Scott’s straightforward appeal to the perspicuity of Scripture–but, of course, that negates the rationale for the Magisterium.
Scott replies: i) No, I don't need to exegete the "Roman episcopate" - my responsibility in THIS debate is to demonstrate sola scriptura is self-contradictory - and I have done this in showing Scripture itself points to ANOTHER infallible authority.  Whether or not that authority is the episcopate of the Catholic Church is another debate, one which I would obviously take the affirmative on as well, but that is not THIS debate.

ii) The binding and loosing language is that "whatsoever they bind (or loose)" is bound or loosed in Heaven.  This authority was given to a group of men, the first bishops of the Church.

iii) No, again, this is not a debate on Catholic authority - my responsibility here was simply to demonstrate that sola scriptura is self-contradictory.  If Mr. Hays would like to engage that debate as well, I would be happy to - but not within the confines of proving sola scriptura as the SOLE infallible rule of faith to be self-contradictory.  The objective reader can see that I have successfully proven my point and that Mr. Hays is the one constantly diverting, dodging and reducing his comments to invalid points of ad hominem.

iv) Again, the subject of the Magisterium is not the topic of THIS debate.
Scott wrote earlier:  “So, given that typically all Christians accept that the Bible itself is God's infallible word - then if the Bible itself points to something other than itself as also infallible then there is no ‘sola.’”

Steve concedes:  It points to the Apostolate. The period of public revelation–which came to an end.
Scott replies:  Well I am pleased to see that Mr. Hays has conceded that this authority was indeed given to the Apostles, the first bishops of the Church.  Whether or not that authority ended with the death of the last of "The Twelve" is only tangentially relevant to this point.  Again, I would be happy to engage Mr. Hays on this related debate, but it is enough here and now to accept his concession that Scripture itself points to ANOTHER infallible authority, albeit he believes that authority ended (an unscriptural even anti-scriptural assertion) but again, that is a topic for another debate.
Steve continues:  Scott’s next paragraph simply repeats something he already said, which I already addressed.
Scott adds:  That paragraph was actually my concluding statement which summarized the points.  In fact, Mr. Hays, I would invite you to deal with precisely the conclusion moreso than each individual supporting argument.  I do not deny your right to deal with each supporting argument, but to just dismiss the conclusion as "already addressed" is irresponsible.  I repeat that paragraph here and now:
Scripture does not teach sola scriptura and in fact teaches the bishops of Christ's Church have infallible authority whenever they choose to bind or loose whatsoever.  Hays' problem here is that our infallible authority is rooted in scriptural reference - which is his allegedly sole infallible authority (assuming he agrees with James White's definition).  Hays is left with an internal contradiction - a self-refuting position since his own authority refutes that it is the sole authority.
Scott concluded: “I thank you for your time and appreciate your comments.”

Steve responds:  We’ll see how appreciative he is.
Scott concludes this round:  Well Steve, I am appreciative.  Aside from the ad hominem (insults) which we can do without - and would actually help your debate style if you can refrain from such in the future, I am appreciative of the fact that Steve ultimately conceded the point I was getting at.  He admits that Scripture is not alone, or at least WAS not alone.  He admits that the Apostolate (the Twelve) were given this infallible authority - but asserts that authority ended when they died - which again, is another debate that I would happily engage him upon.


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